Bowling Green Campus Leads Navy Veteran Toward New Career Path

Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Sherrod’s final duty before closing his 10-year Navy career was as a recruiter, traveling across the region to teach young, prospective military members about the opportunities the Navy offered.

During that time he became familiar with area colleges like the University of Kentucky and also made plenty of visits to Bowling Green, Ky. He appreciated the city for its small-town feel and scenic views, but also its growth and potential.

Now, as he chases a new career path, he calls this place home.

At 40 years old, Sherrod applied to the University of Kentucky College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus. During his interview he was introduced to the campus’s state-of-the-art facilities and its promising opportunities in medical education, which made him feel that the location would lead him to reach his potential as a physician.

He currently is one of 30 first-year students, and 60 students overall, at the campus that is in its second year.

A career in medicine had always been in the back of Sherrod’s mind, given that becoming a doctor runs in his family. His father has been an obstetrician-gynecologist for several years.

Sherrod also saw the career path as another way he could serve his country.

“I think the biggest thing I learned was how much misinformation was out there, and I felt like that might be an issue I could help solve for my community by helping them be informed correctly about health care,” he said.

He ultimately joined the Navy first to seek direction after receiving a psychology degree from Emory University in 2000. In the Navy he served as a fire controlman, a job focused on weapons operations. He was in charge of a long-range missile system: its maintenance, loading and unloading, and firing the system. His specialty was the NATO Seasparrow Missile System, and the majority of his 10 years was spent stationed in San Diego onboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, a Marine transport vessel.

His military experience helped him establish leadership and teamwork skills, and the discipline he developed through vigorous training has helped him conquer medical school’s challenges. For example, he maintains sharp focus during study sessions, and he is able to push himself to his limits.

In a way, medicine shares the same concept as the military in that he’s working to find a solution to a problem. So, the timing of his pursuits proved to be beneficial.

“The time spent traveling the world and having job responsibilities gave me the experience I’ve always wanted, and the time onboard the USS Bonhomme Richard prepared me for the decision to go back to school and become a doctor,” Sherrod said. “I have more patience and resolve now than I did in my 20s, so I know I made the right decision.”

After the Navy, Sherrod earned the necessary prerequisites with a biology degree and chemistry minor from the University of Memphis. While it’s still early in his journey toward a medical degree, he has been drawn to radiology after shadowing doctors with Med Center Health, Bowling Green Campus’s medical partner.

He would cherish the opportunity to stay in Bowling Green or to practice near Memphis, his hometown, when he graduates medical school. No matter where he ends up, he finds it rewarding to be following a passion he always had and proving that it’s never too late to do so.

“This is what I’ve dreamed of,” he said.